Some friends of ours recently got married and asked us for relationship advice. Good God save us all - I have no advice.
But I do have some lessons I’m learning. As in, I started learning them when we started dating almost ten years ago, I’m still learning them now, and I’ll continue to learn them for decades of years. They are lessons that have applied to all the relationships in my life, so you don't have to tap out if you're not in a relationship.
- EVERYTHING -
Your partner cannot be your everything and will not fulfill your every desire and dream.
There is this misconception that once you find your life partner you will be happier, fulfilled, and more secure. That all your hopes, dreams, and desires can be found in this person's dedication and love for you.
Nope. Just nope.
Your partner will make you happy, your life more full, and you will find some security in their love...but if you’re not happy, fulfilled, and secure as a single person - you won’t be with your life partner either.
So you can stop.
I can stop.
Stop trying to milk dry the person we love the most for all our fulfillment, all our happiness, and all our support. They don’t deserve to feel bone dry and inadequate when we are coming to them for our everything.
>> I’m learning that my happiness, fulfillment, security, desires, and dreams can’t be satisfied through Bobby. He scratches the surface to be sure, but that whole long list of all my needs are only satisfied when I live in the LOVE reality that burns from the sky to my heart and I acknowledge the Living God who says His love for me is deeper, higher, and wider than I can even imagine. Any desire and dream I have had and will have is satisfied when in unity with His desires and dreams.
- YOUR CRAP IS MY CRAP -
Both Bob and me brought a lot of icky stuff to the relationship. Fears, depression, insecurities, lack of belief, and selfishness to name a few. And they all have fleshed out in some horrific nightmare of a time in our lives if not daily.
Life is just so lifey - ya know?
Our crap tries so hard to put walls between Bobby and me, so that we are incapable of being a part of the unity and love that we have for each other.
>> I'm learning that all the nasty we brought to the relationship is no longer just ours as individuals, but ours together. Which in one way is really awesome and in one way really rough. I feel incredible love and devotion when Bobby has made my crap his crap and stood by me in my depression, or supported me in my decision to go to counseling, or refuted my fears in his overwhelming belief in me. I think all relationships at their core have to be just this - acknowledging the crap in each others life and choosing them all the same. We have each other and that makes our crap less crappy.
"just wait till your married"
People would freak me the hell out when they would say this.
Why do people think it's appropriate to insinuate so many horrible things about how your relationship is going to go downhill when you finally commit? Whether it be about how you're gonna gain weight, or be too busy to have a healthy relationship when you have kids, or your sex life is going to go to shit, or whatever!
I'm waving a big BS flag on this one.
>>I'm learning that healthiness is something we have to fight for both individually and relationally. Yah, there is some truth in getting comfortable physically, in gaining some weight because you're so secure in someones love for you, in taking relational sacrifices to invest in a growing family.
But I have to believe that settling for mediocre and then somehow sliding into not healthy is a choice.
That I have the power and discipline to fight for healthiness both personally and in my relationships. That I can save money and book a romantic trip, that I can budget in counseling, that my healthiness is worth going on a jog, that even when we are dripping with children we are going to have passion. Maybe not the rip your clothes off passion all the time, but the passion that's elbows deep in legos and is still looking me in the eyes and saying, "I fully know you, I fully love you, I fully want you to be mine for forever".
I believe a healthy me is worth fighting for. I believe healthy relationships are worth fighting for. Healthy isn't easy because it's uphill. But healthiness is never mediocre.
- GIVING UP -
There’s going to be a point where it hurts.
Where it feels like you don’t want to stay with this imperfect person who never fully understands you and rarely loves you the way you need to be loved.
You’re going to contemplate whether it hurts more to stay or to leave. Whether it would be easier to go down separate paths.
You’re going to get in your car and drive down some God-forsaken valley road and end up in the middle of nowhere bawling because you know that you are asking someone to understand you, when you don’t fully understand yourself.
And you’re asking someone to love you fully, when you feel like some days, most days, you can’t even love yourself.
Sometimes it going to feel like loving that person is bleeding out for them and you’re not sure if this love will give you life or kill you.
>>I’m learning that love isn’t snuggles, fun getaways, kisses, romantic evenings, having a hand to hold, or Instagram worthy pictures. It’s bleeding out for someone you’re devoted to, much like Jesus bled out for me, and the paradox being it somehow brings me life.